Jessica Mathews /

A woman charged in an animal welfare case who operates a sanctuary in northeastern Livingston County is heading to trial.

The Devoted Barn is operated by 50-year-old Melissa Borden, who is charged with a felony count of abandoning/cruelty to 25 or more animals. She appeared in 53rd District Court in Howell for a probable cause conference late last week. Her exam was waived and she was bound over to Circuit Court for trial.

The Devoted Barn was keeping different kinds of farm animals on property off Foley Road, east of Hartland Road in Tyrone Township. Numerous complaints were registered with authorities and a search warrant was executed in January with 64 animals seized including goats, pigs, donkeys, sheep, a llama, and an alpaca. The animals were all relocated and were to be evaluated.

Past volunteers raised concerns about the welfare of the animals. Complaints have included a lack of shelter, insufficient food, and multiple species being kept in the same pens.

Borden has denied the accusations on social media - saying the animals are well fed, get routine veterinary care, and all are elderly.

Borden has since agreed to surrender the animals and has been ordered to pay more than $102,000 in costs for the county caring for the animals. She again denied the accusations on social media that and said she only agreed to forfeit the animals because she couldn’t afford to continue incurring those costs and felt she had no other options.

Borden remains free on a $10,000 personal bond. Future court dates are pending.

Meanwhile, the rescue has relocated in the past due to legal battles and issues with multiple municipalities.

Court records show that Tyrone Township filed a lawsuit against Borden, the property owner, and the non-profit last November. A status hearing is scheduled in May.